Black Pudding vs. Blood Sausage (Are They the Same Thing?)

Blood sausage has been made and enjoyed worldwide since ancient times, although it’s rare in the US.

Many Americans are surprised to find that the traditional British food called “black pudding” is blood sausage and are confused by the names.

Are black pudding and blood sausage the same thing? Yes, black pudding is a specific style of blood sausage. Let’s learn more about this surprising British food.

black pudding vs blood sausage

Is Blood Sausage the Same as Black Pudding?

It helps to remember that the term “sausage” means something like a mix of meat and fat and seasonings in a casing, and it is made and eaten around the world with a variety of local names.

Likewise, a “blood sausage” is the same type of food that includes animal blood as a primary ingredient.

Because blood sausages have been made worldwide since ancient times, they may be known by a wide range of names, like boudin noir, morcilla, sundae, bloedworst, and more.

A black pudding is a specific blood sausage made in the British Isles.

It’s made from pork or beef blood, fat or suet, and either oats or barley as a binder. 

So, a black pudding is a type of blood sausage, but blood sausages made in other parts of the world may include different ingredients and flavors.

All in all, blood sausage and black pudding aren’t the same, but they aren’t very different either.

Why Is Blood Sausage Called Black Pudding?

The origins of the term “pudding” date back to Middle English in the 1300s.

The word “poding” indicated any meat-filled animal stomach, similar to the traditional preparation of sausages.

Like many English culinary terms, it was probably derived from the French word “boudin,” which means the same thing. 

Because blood darkens when it is cooked, the French use the term “boudin noir” (or “black sausage”) for blood sausage.

Naturally, because of the French influence on English cuisine and food terminology, the English would begin to refer to their own blood sausage as “black pudding.”

Is Black Pudding a Sausage?

Black pudding is a type of sausage, but sausage is an extensive term.

Sausage was invented to preserve and prepare every last part of an animal, allowing no meat to go to waste.

Because small scraps of meat and fat, along with blood and organs, can be challenging to cook individually, combining these different ingredients and placing them inside a stomach or intestine allowed them to be cooked together and avoided wasting valuable nutrients. 

Because people were independently inventing ways to maximize their nutrition, and this method is efficient and useful, sausage-type dishes were created worldwide.

Every culture has its own type of “sausage,” each has its own ingredients and preparation methods.

Why Is Black Pudding Called Pudding?

The way the British use the word “pudding” is incredibly confusing for outsiders.

Today, it has two distinct meanings, each with its own etymology.

Savory Puddings

The term “pudding” was derived from the French word “boudin,” meaning “sausage.”

Initially, a “pudding” was meat scraps and animal fats that were usually seasoned and mixed with grain as a binder, then placed into an animal stomach or intestine and boiled for cooking.

Today, “black pudding” refers to this sausage made with animal blood.

There is also “white pudding,” which has no blood and is made the same way, so it remains pale in color.

There are also many savory puddings in British cuisine, like Yorkshire pudding (which isn’t a sausage) and suet pudding.

Dessert

Over time, when animal casings weren’t available, British cooks began wrapping ingredients tightly in cloth bags and boiling them.

This created dishes prepared like a sausage but didn’t have a casing and had a more comprehensive range of ingredients.

Eventually, a number of sweet dishes were made in this way but kept the name “pudding” because of the preparation method.

Today, English desserts like “rice pudding,” “treacle pudding,” or “sticky toffee pudding” retain the name “pudding,” even if they are no longer boiled in a bag.

To add to the confusion, “pudding” became a generic term for “dessert” and often simply indicated the sweet course at the end of a meal.

In American English, the dessert “bread pudding” retains this use of “pudding,” although it doesn’t resemble an American pudding at all.

Is Black Pudding Illegal in America?

The US Department of Agriculture bans the imports of foods containing certain ingredients, like blood and organ meats.

Because these foods carry a higher risk of food contamination, and foreign manufacturers don’t have to comply with US sanitary and processing regulations, they are not allowed to be imported.

This import ban applies to black pudding, blood sausages, haggis, and other foods made with animal blood or organs.

You are not allowed to buy them and ship them to the US from other countries or bring them back into the US from a trip abroad.

As a result, black pudding is not illegal in America, but it is illegal to import black pudding from other countries.

Americans who want black pudding either have to buy it from someone who makes it within the United States or make it themselves.

Several American companies make traditional black puddings, and they can be found in specialty food stores or ordered online.

In Summary

Black pudding is a specific style of blood sausage made in the British Isles and is still enjoyed as part of a traditional English or Irish breakfast.

There’s a vast range of blood sausages made worldwide, but only traditional British recipes are called “black puddings,” and many British foods are called “pudding” even when they aren’t puddings at all.

Hopefully, this article clarifies the confusion about the differences between blood sausages and black puddings, and you can buy and enjoy an American-made black pudding for yourself.